In a recent email dialogue on Romans 12:1-5 I was asked to clarify what I mean’t when I wrote that to claim ‘yourself as dead to this world and alive to Christ seems to me to have some serious consequences for proving the will of God in all things’. The following email is my reply-
I feel these verses are most pertinent to the issue of baptism- in baptism we are making are effectively dying to the principalities and powers of the world to rise set free from the powers of this world secure in our salvation in Jesus Christ. It was this conviction that gave the martyrs in church history the courage to follow Jesus even to death on the cross at the hands of the domination system (for them the Roman Empire). I believe that the act of baptism is an act of civil disobedience in it we are transferring our loyalty from temporal rulers to the Jesus Christ and his coming kingdom.
If this is a true and accurate interpretation of Scripture then we are required to witness to the ‘now and the not yet’ of the kingdom through opposing even rebelling against unjust asylum laws, tariffs imposed on imports, war-mongering (and the whole myth of redemptive violence), the list goes on. However, such a subversive agenda may have serious consequences for Christians around the globe. I cannot give my loyalty to any so called ‘Christendom’ because it remains out of sync with the upside-down Kingdom of God described in the beatitudes.
So far, I have globalised and pushed my interpretation of scripture to the extreme to make clear my meaning. I still believe that there is much work to do through living counter-cultural lives. I believe that any rebellion starts in someone’s home through standing up for the sanctity of marriage, buying fairly traded goods, campaigning against war as a legitimate means to an end, and all manner of personal holiness issues such as not spending money frivolously, watching pornography, bullying the slightly odd dude in the workplace, getting drunk etc.
Moreover, there are serious charismatic issues- for example, taking serious the fight against spiritual principalities and powers manifest in systems which dehumanise us like the workplace, legal system, tax system, political system. But not only manifest in these systems, also in peoples homes where they have flirted with the occult, had an incestuous relationship, allowed the seeds of marital discord to take root, or sibling rivalries to develop. We also need to recognise that even some Christians find themselves in spiritual bondage to consumerism (greed), pornography, domestic violence, certain forms of feminism and masculine, let alone non-Christians who may have to overcome these challenges on the road to faith.
At baptism, I was given a glimpse of the new kingdom God was calling me to become a part of but the rabbit hole goes deeper than I realise and I daily discover new challenges for the church to overcome. In truth if I knew how hard some of this Christian living would be I may not have started down this road but I know now that to live with the reality of God in my life is to see the world as it really is and that is far better than to live with scales over my eyes.
Anyway, I guess I understand that the church is called to live on fundamentally different principles to the rest of the world afterall for Christians ‘to live is Christ to die is gain’ and because of this we are always going to be resident aliens. I hope that you will still happy to call me brother after reading this and I pray every blessing for you and your family.
Yours in Christ,
I’m sure I have missed much out that you could add- please do!